Reliance Jio stirred the entire telecom space with its free data and unlimited calls. The data war is still on. It all started with Jio, back in September 2016 – and eventually, the rest of the networks followed the trend. In the telecom space today, it’s all about cheap tariff plans and more services. Be it Jio, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, BSNL or any other, telcos are coming up with new value for money plans, revamping the old ones almost every other day. Apart from these telecom giants, there are a few startups who are also aiming for the same – to provide “super cheap” data at “super fast” speed at the minimal cost.
A Bengaluru-based start up called Wifi Dabba is among one such startups. This is a 13-month old company that believes data cost in India is very high at present. “We believe that even after the launch of Jio there is a lot of room for price wars to happen and we are certain that we can drop the prices even further,” says Shubhendu Sharma Co-founder of Wifi Dabba.
This Bengaluru-based startup is currently offering a few data packs for the consumers. The cheapest of them all is Rs 2 plan under which the consumers will get 100 MB. It also offers 500 MB at Rs 10 and 1GB of data at Rs 20. The validity for all three data plans is 24 hours. It is noteworthy that these packs only offer data and no calling facility. Meanwhile, Jio offers 0.15GB of data along with unlimited voice calls and SMS at Rs 19 for 1 day.
All the above mentioned plans are for prepaid users – as Shubhendu believes – “90 per cent of data connections in India are prepaid. Not many people want to spend Rs 300 up front and this way, users can buy data when they need.” ET had an interview with Shubhendu – where he spoke about Wifi Dabba’s plans and what it aims to achieve in the future, and also how the entire process works.
How to get these data packs?
The data packs are available in the form of prepaid tokens at local tea stalls or bakeries. These packs are available only in Bengaluru for now. While explaining the entire process, Shubhendu says, “We do not ask our users to download any app. They just need to punch in their mobile numbers, fill in the OTP for verification, punch in the key and connect to the internet.”
He further says – “For anyone who has accessed Wifi in a hotel, the process is very similar, where you connect to the Wifi Dabba network and a browser page opens for you to key in the details.”
How does Wifi Dabba work?
Wifi Dabba is a licensed ISP and provides data facility via small routers powered by fiber optics. These routers are installed in the local kirana shops. Shubhendu believes “fiber optics provides for a more reliable connection as compared to cellular towers, the speed of which degrades depending on the distance.” “We provide a speed of 50 Mbps in a radius of 100-200 metres,” he adds.
As of now, Wifi Dabba has installed around 350 routers or dabbas across Bengaluru and claims to have over 1800 connection requests in-waiting. Wifi Dabba partners with local cable operators to lay the cables. To create a new connection it currently takes approx 6-7 days. However, in the days to come – the number of days to set up a new connection may come down to 3-4 days. “We spend Rs 4000 to roll out one dabba and 20 of these dabbas can achieve what one tower of big companies can, at a fraction of the cost,” claims Sharma.
Wifi Dabba apparently already has a diverse user profile – which mostly include the lower income peoples like masons, barbers and even the -going students – who often have very limited money to spend on the data plans.
Well, how well will Wifi Dabba flourish – this only time will say. And if at all it can compete with the ruling telecom giants like Jio, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and the rest.